Dear Colleagues, Community, and Friends,
It is now widely known that the Department of State Title VIII program has been suspended due to lack of funding for the 2013 cycle of applications. While it remains uncertain whether the program will be revived, the REEEC community of faculty and staff at Illinois intend to host the Summer Research Lab (SRL) in 2014 for its 41st session. Unfortunately, this session will have fewer funding opportunities for participants. This is to say that while the loss of Title VIII support this year is detrimental, it is not devastating in the short term. Thanks to the foresight of past faculty and REEEC Directors, we have the means available to continue SRL while we search for new, perhaps more sustainable, funding streams. It should be noted that this news from the Title VIII program in no way impacts our status as a Department of Education National Resource Center, FLAS funding, our degree programs, or other academic year activities that REEEC offers as a center.
Cutbacks can often lead to innovation and make way for new ideas to spring forth. The REEEC community has already gotten to work on expanding, re-thinking, and developing ideas for what the Summer Research Lab can become in a world where future Title VIII funding may be completely unavailable. Because of the creativity and insight of the REEEC Executive Committee, plans are currently in place to expand SRL offerings in 2014 in partnership with our colleagues at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Further reconfiguration and expansion is also in the planning stages, so please stay tuned to our website and blog for announcements.
Patrons of the Slavic Reference Service (SRS) should be aware that SRS will continue to provide support for reference requests as usual. Thanks to the leadership in the International and Area Studies Library (IASL), arrangements have been made to maintain staffing at the Slavic Reference Service. In addition, the IASL has been working towards developing an enhanced reference service modeled on the SRS to include expanded expertise and a broader range of materials and service to more scholars and specialists the world over.
In addition to new partnerships and programmatic developments, REEEC has embarked on a fundraising campaign to help replace funds no longer available from Title VIII. Part of this campaign includes an appeal for community support. If you have benefited from Title VIII in the past and want to help the next generation of scholars, please consider making a donation to the Friends of REEEC fund, indicating your intention to support SRL (http://www.reeec.illinois.edu/friends/). With these monies, we hope to provide housing and travel grants to graduate students and early career scholars to visit Illinois during SRL. The programmatic sharing of our remarkable library collection, which makes it a more vital resource for scholars than the few collections that outsize it, will thus definitely continue.
Again, it is with a heavy heart that we consider the ways in which the loss of Title VIII funding will impact the field of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. The program is responsible for funding countless hours of research, language training, and field visits, which has led to thousands of publications, hundreds of specialists in the field, and dozens of new and enhanced courses at American universities. It is our mission at Illinois to continue to serve as resource for those with limited opportunities for field visits and access to vernacular materials. While it is our hope that Title VIII funding will be renewed in the near future, we will also seek other sustainable means to continue to offer services and support for scholars and research professionals to the best of our ability.
Please feel free to contact REEEC for any comments or questions regarding the contents of this message. We look forward to seeing many of you again for SRL 2014.
With all best wishes,
Dr. David L. Cooper, REEEC Director & Ms. Alisha Kirchoff, REEEC Associate Director
For further information, analysis and media coverage on the status of Title VIII, please visit the following links:
RIA Novosti “US Defunds Venerable Russian Studies Program:” http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131023/184302924/US-Defunds-Venerable-Russian-Studies-Program.html
RIA Novosti “US Ambassador Alumnus of Defunded Russia Studies Program:” http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131025/184359108/US-Ambassador-Alumnus-of-Defunded-Russia-Studies-Program.html
Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2013/10/23/federal-cuts-eurasian-and-eastern-european-studies
ASEEES Title VIII Alert: http://www.aseees.org/new/title8-alert.php
Russia Direct, “Why America Needs to Fund the Next Generation of Russia Scholars:” http://russia-direct.org/content/why-america-needs-fund-next-generation-russia-scholars
Russia History Blog: http://russianhistoryblog.org/2013/10/federal-defunding-of-russian-and-eurasian-studies/
Sean’s Russia Blog, “Defunding Title VIII:” http://seansrussiablog.org/2013/10/23/defunding-title-viii/
Sean’s Russia Blog, “Title VIII and Ambassador McFaul:” http://seansrussiablog.org/2013/10/26/title-viii-ambassador-mcfaul/